Missouri Farmers Face Uncertainty After Farm Bill Stalls

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JEFFERSON CITY - Farmers faced uncertainty Friday after the U.S. Congress went on a five-week recess and failed to pass the farm bill or any drought assistance programs.

The Missouri Farm Bureau said Friday that Missouri farmers are left "waiting" and "holding on" until Congress passes the five-year farm bill or some kind of fix to hold it over until 2013. With 57 days left until the current bill expires, taking with it several aid programs. Thirty-seven programs--including disaster aid for livestock producers--expired last year.

"If something isn't done, we will revert back to law from the 30s and 40s," said Garrett Hawkins with the Missouri Farm Bureau. "Congress would not let them just revert back to law from the depression era so they would have to do some type of extension."

But until then, farmers are left with questions.

"As producers make their business plans, they need to know what types of programs will be available for them as they plan out. So that's really a question for them," said Hawkins.

The farm bill is a wide-reaching measure that determines most of the agriculture and food policy of the U.S. and is usually passed every five years. The U.S. Senate passed its version of the bill in June, but the bill still hasn't made it to the house floor. The bill was approved by the House Agriculture Committee on July 12, but House Republican leaders said there wasn't enough support for it to pass the full body. However, the house did try to push through a drought relief bill separate of the farm bill before going home. The house passed the $383 million emergency relief package for livestock producers 223-197, but the senate refused to take the measure up.